Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Surprise: LR Airport commissioners reappointed

Posted By on Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 8:37 PM

For the first-rate job they've done overseeing the Little Rock National Airport, Robert East and Tom Schueck were reappointed to the Little Rock Airport Commission tonight byMayor Mark Stodola and the appointments were confirmed by the City Board of Directors. Retired general Wesley Clark was appointed to the vacancy created by Jimmy Moses' decision not to seek another term.

The reappointments drew one "no" vote — from new Vice Mayor Dean Kumpuris. from Ken Richardson. I understand there was a fair amount of discussion, but if the vote is an indication, it ran toward the laudatory.

Accountability. That's Little Rock's motto.

I wasn't able to watch. But the meeting will be rebroadcast at 9 a.m. tomorrow and other times on the local government access channel. If you can stomach it.

I had previously asked to be notified when the mayor made his reappointment recommendations — and got no word of it until after the meeting. If there was a meaningful public notice of the mayor's picks, I'm unaware of it. (Reappointments were on the board agenda, but not the names of those the mayor favored.) Not that it would have mattered had someone wanted to object.

Let's all gather down at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce headquarters to celebrate and laugh at the chumps. There's probably some cash in the taxpayer-funded "economic development fund" to pay for drinks for the titans of airport development, which is now boarding 25 percent fewer passengers than it did 10 years ago and embarking on a zillion-dollar expansion program. Or maybe they can celebrate with the chamber director Jay Chesshir at another well-lubricated Parisian feast.

Maybe Airport Director Ron Mathieu could pick up a round,. Maybe even a steak dinner. Surely it's somebody's birthday. He could just forget to use his private credit card. Who'd ever know? I hear he's got an airport Amex card with a stout credit limit. And he certainly owes East and Schueck plenty for singing his praises unstintingly. They can yuk it up on the next private plane flight to Washington. Or in the limo as they cruise around Capitol Hill. Or on next year's first-class junket to Hawaii, which ought to resume as usual after a year of deprivation for some commissioners.

Long live the LR Club. Unwashed taxpayers, sorry. You're not invited. But thanks for your 70 percent higher parking fees and the new rental car charges during the Mathieu regime. Without you, we couldn't afford an airport PR official who makes more than the director of the Arkansas State Police or a $40,000 contribution to a private Christian school's football field construction fund. And how else could we buy the airport director's dress shirts?

A number of other reappointments were on the agenda. I'm uncertain at this point whether there was a resolution on the question of disclosure of city business by appointees and whether specific ordinances will be required for each in the future. That has been the law, but it has been ignored.

UPDATE: Democrat-Gazette reports Wednesday morning that the Board adopted an ordinance meant to cover board members who do city business, a means to return a couple of contractors back to the Planning Commission. They'd resigned earlier to protect their city business. I see there was a touch of controversy, too, when Ken Richardson noted the dominance of white males in appointments. Interestingly, he didn't seem to single out the Airport Commission (an untouchable, clearly), where three white males were appointed last night to a panel of seven that includes one woman and two black people.

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